The Rural Independents group of TDs will bring a private members motion in the Dáil, today (Thursday, April 1) seeking to “hold the government accountable” for delivering infrastructure in rural Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the today’s Dáil session, one of the group’s members, Mattie McGrath, said: “Our motion seeks to hold the government democratically accountable for the delivery of key infrastructural investments under the National Development Plan (NDP).”
Among other things, the group’s bill will seek to deliver the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) by the end of 2022, the Tipperary TD explained.
It is inconceivable how the government can claim the NBP is successful when the programme only delivers high-speed internet access to 12% of the 550,000 homes promised by the end of this year.
“We are seeking to have the chronic under-investment in rural areas addressed by prioritising infrastructural development in the regions and rural areas, by expediting the delivery and increasing the investment,” McGrath said.
He added: “This is essential to stem decline, improve quality of life, harness the opportunity of remote work and allow for balanced regional job creation.”
As part of the bill, the rural TDs are also seeking a review of the “draconian planning restrictions” on one-off rural housing.
Earlier this week, the government launched a half-baked rural development strategy.
“The document was vague and farcical, containing no details and amounting to nothing more than a ‘cut and paste’ exercise of previous press releases and announcements,” McGrath claimed.
He argued that the new government policy for rural development is “extremely light on detail, targets, data and figures”.
“Such an approach and meaningless level of commitment is why rural parts of the country are continuing to be starved of jobs and investment and hit with overburdensome regulations and restrictions.
Tonight, we offer, through our motion, the opportunity for all TDs to decide if they are on the side of transparency and accountability, and for a prioritised investment programme for rural Ireland.
“TDs will have to decide if they wish to stand with the ongoing government spin and empty platitudes or actually support our motion,” McGrath argued.